Navesink Estate Farmers Put the Veg Back into Garden State:

Megan Paska and Michael Meier farm suburban estates on the Navesink River, growing food for locals and easing taxes for homeowners.

Michael Meier was a successful advertising executive working in New York City.  Megan Paska’s career was very similar.  That was, until, according to Michael, they both traded it away to pursue something more fulfilling, farming.

But when you live in Brooklyn, farming means a life on the roof, for Meier who grew vegetables and Paska who raised bees.

Eventually there work led them south to broader pastures on a small estate farm in the Navesink River area, where a property owner had a parcel of land he wanted to put to good use, and Paska and Meier were hired to do exactly that.

In their TEDxNavesink 2013 talk, Paska and Meier reveal three main benefits to farming that can be quickly and easily obtained: environmental; localizing agriculture; and developing communities.  Three benefits that, they emphasize, can be obtained by residents of Monmouth County as well.

 “We looked around in our neighboring area and we saw a lot of estates like the one we were farming on, large, beautiful pieces of property, expansive lawns across the river, and we thought, ‘How awesome would it be to see farms right here and across the river?’…And we thought, ‘Why don’t we have farms here? Why don’t we farm Monmouth County?” Meier said.

The farmers have turned an acre of grass into a productive, sustainable farm growing fruits and vegetables for 37 families.  They also have a flock of 85 chickens who lay various different color eggs, ducks that lay eggs as well, a small herd of dairy goats that produce milk from which they make cheese and yogurt, and a small apiary with 13 beehives, from which they can create bees’ wax products.

Meier calls their farm a “slice of heaven” that he wished more small farmers had access to, but land isn’t cheap and he and Paska believe that’s one of the factors keeping new farmers out of the business.

Their plan to combat this struggle is simple: to build up small farms on large estates.  As they explain more in-depth in their talk, this arrangement can be highly beneficial to both the estate-holders and the farmers. 

Paska and Meier’s message is directed at these two groups: estate holders and potential farmers, asking them to give it a shot, with the goal in mind of “developing a strong food culture – have young farmers creating vibrant communities with amazing food, which ignites a passion in chefs and eaters alike.”

 You can watch Megan Paska and Michael Meier’s full talk here.

Join us May 10 at Two River Theater in Red Bank at TEDxNavesink 2014: PLAY, where 24 presenters will share the positive power of play every day in technology, education, design and more. Limited tickets are available for this all day event, which includes a catered lunch, networking opportunities, and an evening reception. Click here to get your ticket.

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